21st century skills matter when getting a real job in the real worldJuly 7, 2016
It occurred to me that I didn’t write that much about this year’s staff training. It being the cornerstone of how we create summers of fun and learning for our campers, I thought that I might want to remedy this.
Starting June 12th each of our coaches, teachers, activity heads and group leaders arrived for two weeks of learning how to be an exceptional child development professional. During their training we offered seminars on every aspect of being a camp counselor, from how to run the most fun and engaging sports and arts activities possible to how to keep each of our campers physically and emotionally safe.
While much of our training was very concrete — examining their syllabi, making sure they understood our safety procedures, etc — there was an important overall pedagogy that underpinned it all. This was outlined by Scott first thing Monday, June 13th in a lecture titled “Why We Do What We Do, and the Importance of 21st Century Skills”. In it, Scott helped our staff understand the immense soft skills gap that exists in our country, and how this is making it hard for employers to recruit quality employees.
But how does this relate to summer camp? Using data from sources like the National Education Association, Pew Research, Psychology Today, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, he pointed out that the skills so many young people are missing — skills like independence, leadership, resilience, and creativity — are the skills that are acquired during summers at overnight camp. And because of this, our summer camp has a unique mission: to move beyond summers of recreation and sports skill building and instead create the most developmentally impactful overnight camp experience possible.
I love sitting in the back of the room each year when Scott gives this talk. I have the pleasure of watching as our counselors have their individual “ah ha” moments. For some it is realizing that these really were the skills that they developed during their summers as campers at K&E, while for others it is recognizing that this is their opportunity to actually acquire skills they so desperately want…and need. It’s like watching dozens and dozens of lightbulbs all switch on. It’s in this session each summer that our new staff begin to understand how much this summer is going to change lives, including their own.
As I was watching Scott’s presentation I remembered a Facebook post that appeared on our Camp Alumni group a few weeks prior. It was written by Adam Cohen, a wonderful guy I was a camper and counselor with many years ago, and who now has three campers of his own at Kenwood and Evergreen. Here’s what he wrote:
At the Boston New Camper event a few weeks ago Scott Brody shared a story about a recent counselor who had aced his interviews at Accenture and got his dream job after camp last summer. I rejoined Accenture about 6 months ago, and we quickly connected the dots. Andrew Fisher happened to be in the same group as me at our company, but based in NYC. We are kicking off a large program with a new client in CT, and I was able to have Andrew join the team – today was his first day on the project.
We plan to commiserate on spending a summer indoors, missing camp. Looking forward to working together.
For those who don’t know him, Andrew started at K&E when he was 9 years old, and worked as a counselor all throughout his college years. While many of his school peers had summer internships making coffee and learning the art of photocopying, Andrew was gaining the sort of real world non-cognitive skills that employers actually want. He learned to be responsible and reliable in a work setting. He completed complicated projects with defined outcomes. He became an effective communicator and a quality problem solver. He weathered challenges and became a more resilient, effective employee. Over many summers he had countless opportunities to be a leader, eventually becoming truly gifted at it.
So when Andrew applied for his dream job as a college senior and the recruiter asked “so what differentiates you from your peers?” he had answers ready about valuable experiences and definable skill sets he developed as a camp counselor. As camp parent Adam shared in his post, Andrew wasn’t just ready for his interview, he aced it. The guy on the other side of the table could see that this young person was better prepared than the 100 other people interested in that job. And he beat out all of those other applicants who had spent their summers interning for companies with famous names and not really accomplishing much.
Just like Scott has been saying for almost a decade, the time this young man spent as a Kenwood and Evergreen camper and counselor gave him a true competitive edge. It’s that same advantage we can wait to give to every one of our campers and counselors this summer.
Scott Brody speaking with our counselors about why we teach 21st century skills at our overnight camp
Would you like to better understand how 7 weeks at our overnight camp can really create these sort of outcomes? If so, click on the button below to watch this presentation Scott gave in June to our camp counselors. I think you’ll find it fascinating.